QBE Insurance Group Ltd. said Wednesday that it has had a positive start to 2012 and expects large risk and catastrophe claims in the first quarter to be US$700 million lower than a year earlier.
Australia's biggest insurance company reiterated its recent guidance for a 2012 insurance profit margin of 13%. But it added that premium rate increases this year have so far exceeded its expectations, with overall average increases of 5%.
It also said that credit spreads have reduced since December and that it had recouped all related unrealized losses booked in 2011.
Last year was one of the worst on record for insurers thanks to a string of natural disasters and QBE shocked the market with a large profit downgrade late in the year after experiencing a surge of claims from Thailand due to floods.